Flu Epidemic 2013: What You Need to Know (VIDEO)

This Just In 8

flu epidemicLet's start with the good news: It's not too late to get the flu shot! Even though there are "spot shortages" of the vaccine being reported around the country and this year's flu shot is only considered "moderately" effective (at 62%), it's still your best bet for avoiding this year's bug, which is (ready for the bad news?) a really, really bad one. How bad?

So far this season, more than 2,000 have died in the U.S. of flu-related complications, a number which has "pushed the illness past the 'epidemic' threshold." Oh, and more bad news: The outbreak could be far from over.

While some experts were hoping this year's flu already reached its peak, CDC Director Thomas Frieden said the current data could be unreliable because it was collected at the end of the holiday season when few people schedule visits to the doctor (meaning fewer people receiving diagnoses).

All told, this "season" could last another 2 to 4 months! Cripes. What to do?! Like we said, it's not too late to get the flu shot -- but bear in mind flu vaccines don't protect against other nasty diseases making the rounds right now including a new form of norovirus and a severe strain of whooping cough -- so don't forget to stick to those hand-washing, good-hygiene basics!!

Have you managed to avoid the flu so far this year?

Image via msnbc.com

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general health, illness